Lesson on Rhetorical Analysis - Atticus Finch’s speech in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (excerpt) Assertion: statement of opinion presented as truth
Overgeneralization: assuming that, since some members of a group exhibit certain
qualities, all members of the group must do so.
Assumption: something taken for granted; a “truth” which is never proved. Assumptions about others are often a part of our belief systems.
“And so a quiet, respectable, humble Negro who had the unmitigated temerity to ‘feel sorry’ for a white woman has had to put his word against two white people’s. I need not remind you of their appearance and conduct on the stand--you saw them for yourselves. The witnesses for the state, with the exception of the sheriff of Maycomb County, have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption--the evil assumption that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber. Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a lie as black as Tom Robinson’s skin, a lie I do not have to point out to you. You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women--black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire.”
*With what fact does Atticus begin his argument?
*What is Atticus' rhetorical purpose? In other words, what understanding and attitude does he want the jury to reach?
How does Atticus use assertions, assumptions and overgeneralizations to achieve his...
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